Staying Ahead of Seller Impersonation Fraud

Home lot map drawing over an aerial view of a farm.

How to layer on the protection and outpace fraudsters

Seller impersonation fraud is gaining national attention. As fraudsters get more sophisticated, it’s important to stay up to date on the realities of the threat and the prevention methods you can use to protect your clients and your business.

The threat

According to the FBI’s latest IC3 report, real estate fraud resulted in victim losses of $400 million in 2022. Seller impersonation is one of the leading strategies; in fact, according to a partner’s survey, 73% of real estate firms reported seeing an increase in seller impersonation fraud attempts since the start of 2023. If those numbers seem too big to comprehend, check out a few of the real-life examples: CT man finds a $1.4M home being built on his family’s land, AZ resident’s retirement plan railroaded by fraud, Land fraud nightmare in Houston.

Fight back, with layers

While there isn’t a “silver bullet” to protect any of us from fraud, there are layers of security we can implement that, hopefully, create enough friction to dissuade fraudsters.

Verify identities
Nearly all fraud relies on impersonation. It’s important that no matter who you’re working with, you’re verifying identities. This requires a combination of processes:

Make it a team effort
You work with many individuals on any given transaction. If everyone is aware of the fraud risks and takes simple measures to protect the client, the risk of fraud goes down for everyone. In particular:

Stay security fit
Understanding the how and why of fraudster behavior enables you and your team to understand potential weaknesses.

Trust your gut

It’s too often we hear “I had a feeling something was off.” Don’t ignore your instincts. Iinstead:

Fraudsters are not going to stop, and neither are we. We’re here to help you not only provide the best experience for your clients, but also protect and grow your business. Whether you need ideas on how to add more security layers or which partners to engage with to increase your protection, let us know.

Looking for more tips? Check out these articles:

Eerie Warnings to Heed: A List of Threats Lurking in Real Estate Transactions
The Evolution of Cyber Crime Tech and What It Means for Your Business
Passwords Are Key to Cyber Security